Father says mentally-challenged daughter abused

July 22, 2010 5:00:34 PM PDT
It is a disturbing story of broken trust.

A father is demanding answers after he says his severely mentally handicapped daughter was sexually assaulted at a group home.

"It's like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. That's how I feel," Angel Acevedo said.

Acevedo thought his severely retarded 43-year-old daughter would finally be safe after enduring years of horror as a child at the Willowbrook institution on Staten Island. That notorious warehouse was closed in 1977 after a devastating expose by EN reporter Geraldo Rivera.

"She was promised she'd be taken care of," he said.

As part of a consent agreement with the state, former Willowbrook residents were supposed to receive high quality services in community homes - special care so those inhuman indignities would never be repeated. Yvette was placed in a group home at a building on the Upper West Side, Metro North, run by Episcopal Social services. In late 2008, Acevedo says agency officials made a staggering admission - that Yvette had tested positive for HPV, a sexually transmitted disease.

"How can she contact a disease like this? Somebody abused Yvette," he said.

Acevedo says he was also told for the first time that Yvette had been sexually abused while under the agency's care back in 1993.

"It's a continuing horror show," he said.

He filed for legal guardianship and, after getting it, is now suing to try to uncover what really happened at the home.

"She is so severely mentally retarded that sexual intercourse under any circumstances would be raping her," Jessie Beeber said. "That's the only way you can get this virus."

We left several phone messages with the agency, and then went to Metro North to try to talk to the administration. The front door, which has a security buzzer, was open.

"You have to call Mrs. Connelly," a voice said.

Acevedo is haunted by the fact that Yvette, who is non-verbal, could never tell him what went on behind the walls at Willowbrook or to now...speak about what may be unspeakable sexual acts.

"No family should have to go thru this. It's a continuing horror show," he said. "Yvette needs someone to represent her and I as her father will represent her. And I want to be heard."

Late today, a spokesperson for Episcopal Social Services told me there is no merit to the allegations.

Yvette remains at the group home while the family decides whether to move her and, if so, where.

Interestingly, a new home would have to be approved by a committee overseeing the surviving Willowbrook residents.

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